How 2K Games And Bioshock Took Back The West

Anyone who minds about piracy is full of sh*t. Anyone who pirates your game wasn't going to buy it anyway! - Warren Spector

IMAGE(http://www.gamerswithjobs.com/files/images/activation_0.jpg)

The same pirates who unleashed Tiger Woods 2008 on the illegal torrent scene before the game hit shelves have failed to do the same for one of the strongest contenders for 2007 game of the year. After over a week to hammer away at the copy protection, the PC version of Bioshock has yet to be cracked. The reasons why have stirred up old controversies and revealed what may be the beginning of the end for casual online piracy.

You may recall when Starforce, a copy protection scheme detested by paying customers and pirates alike, enjoyed a brief period in where it seemed like every PC game coming out of Europe was saddled with the invasive, unstable copy protection. The aptly named "Boycott Starforce" website cataloged problems caused by the software which primarily stemmed from the fact that Starforce installed a device driver on the customer's computer that slowly degraded system performance until it rendered the CD drive functionally useless. This also prevented games from loading and according to the site, caused catastrophic system crashes.

Even members of the Starforce team admitted the system was far from perfect. "The purpose of copy protection is not making the game uncrackable – it is impossible. The main purpose is to delay the release of the cracked version," said JM, a Starforce admin on the official forums. "After several months of sales even we recommend the publishers to release patches that remove the copy protection just to make the game play more comfortable to the customers."

If the choice is either copy protection that is so invasive legitimate customers spark online revolts, or so easy anyone can snatch your game with a few clicks on their favorite torrent site, what is a publisher to do?

2K Games has set a new precedent by requiring the user to activate their game online before allowing them to play. Unlike a Windows Vista or XP install, you can't pick up the phone to activate your key. Never have we seen a publisher require this extra step for a single-player only title. It's assumed in multiplayer games like Battlefield 2 or World of Warcraft that you aren't going to get around needing to login to a central server and verify legitimate CD key before you can play. Until now, we were also safe in assuming we could skip that step for a game that wouldn't otherwise require a net connection at all.

This added activation step has seemingly frozen game-cracking pirates in their tracks. But before the corks cleared the Champaign bottles at 2K Games, user complaints began flooding in regarding the two activations limit. Customers who had to reinstall the game after issues or upgrades were angry at the prospect of being locked out from a game they own. While uninstalling was supposed to add one activation back, it wasn't working. 2K has since come forward and increased the activations to five per copy, and promised a "revoke activation" tool to remove a computer's clearance to play the game so it can be transferred to another.

The publisher seems to have taken a "better to ask for forgiveness" approach and gradually given the user back some measure of control over their own software. The precedent will remain, however. A big budget, single-player PC game has required activation and by all accounts, it's working. The game is flying off shelves, the reviews are stellar and reports of Starforce levels of computer issues have been minimal so far.

This may be the first real strike against pirates in some time that actually slows them down without completely alienating paying customers. Even if they were to crack the game today, the damage has already been done. The lure of getting the game first has come and gone, leaving casual pirates who enjoy downloading games from their favorite sites left choosing between patience and spending their money. Even the most hardcore, savvy game pirates have little recourse short of buying the game or, oddly enough, modifying their Xbox 360. In an interesting switch, the Xbox 360 version of Bioshock was hacked and made available for download on major torrent sites on release day.

What's significant here is that a console version has been cracked while the PC version remains elusive. The more examples we see of PC games slowing down piracy efforts significantly, the more likely publishers are to take a second look at the PC as a safe, viable platform to sell to. Even though adding complexity to the install and game launching process increases the chance of problems, ensuring that a majority of players paid for the privilege is probably worth the extra trouble.

On the other hand, requiring more hoops to jump through always runs the risk of alienating customers and causing the sort of coding arms race that brought us "solutions" like Starforce. History would suggest that this will eventually be the case; few schemes can withstand the onslaught of hundreds of programmers fighting to crack your game for fun and profit. Once that happens we're right back to square one and legitimate customers will pay the price in money spent and time wasted trying to make things work.

The question remains the same for gamers. How much control are we willing to sacrifice for the sake of a healthy gaming market? Even console makers are forcing users to consider this with their handling of digital downloads. Sony has already made a move to prevent users from downloading Warhawk to multiple machines as a way of sharing the game by locking it to the PSN account that made the purchase. The collateral damage in this case are friends and family who share the same console and want to play on their own account. The Xbox 360 also has issues with DRM, replacements and multiple users accessing content.

It's a mess. All we can say for sure right now is that online activation is working for Bioshock and it's only the beginning.

- Shawn Andrich

Comments

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There isn't a crack yet, but I don't think that's because you can only activate it online. Programmatically speaking, it doesn't matter whether you check a CD or a web service for activation - the mechanism is ultimately the same. The goal of the crack is to bypass such a check entirely.

In fact, I almost think it would be easier to crack a game that uses online activation. Just sniff the packets that get sent and received, create your own dummy server, route the traffic to it and viola! Of course they probably thought of that and added a unique public/private key pair to each copy of the game, as well as possibly including date/time data in that key as well. At the end of the day though the code to verify and activate still runs on the client machine, so a crack is inevitable.

How to make a truly uncrackable game... I forsee a future where even single player games have servers you must connect to. "Damn splicer! Would have got him if it wasn't for the lag!"

The 327th Male wrote:

The goal of the crack is to bypass such a check entirely.

The problem for crackers here is that it isn't just a check. It's downloading required executable code that is not included on the game DVD! Very creative, to say the least. That's on top of the typical "is this a real CD/DVD" check.

I think the important lesson to learn is that a moving target is hard to hit. Starforce came out and was uncracked for quite a few months, but it was eventually beaten down and dragged into an alley. I suspect that the reason Bioshock hasn't been circumvented on the PC is the novelty of its scheme and not any inherent strength. If this sort of protection becomes the norm, I expect warez groups to adapt.

I've always found the way security schemes are done somewhat odd. By outsourcing a game's protection to a 3rd party like SecureRom, Starforce or whatever, you're banking on the idea that their well known idea will be more resilient than trying to craft your own unique solution. Given that virtually every single commercial protection scheme gets taken down, I've got to think that coming up with your own new protection is the better choice. It may not be as strong as the pros, but by being new it might hold off the initial warezing, hopefully long enough that you hit your street date and impatience leads those sitting on the fence to shell out their cash out of impatience.

*Legion* wrote:
The 327th Male wrote:

The goal of the crack is to bypass such a check entirely.

The problem for crackers here is that it isn't just a check. It's downloading required executable code that is not included on the game DVD! Very creative, to say the least. That's on top of the typical "is this a real CD/DVD" check.

Why wouldn't they just include that newly downloaded stuff along with the *entire game you're downloading*? Though by confining and not publishing that key piece of the game until the game hits shelves, you've definitely bought time for yourself.

A big budget, single-player PC game has required activation and by all accounts, it's working. The game is flying off shelves, the reviews are stellar and reports of Starforce levels of computer issues have been minimal so far.

Thing is, in this case you're forgetting to add into the equation the massive levels of advertising that have gone behind this product. The last game i saw that had this level of advertising was Halo... that also has a great effect on the number of copies flying off the shelves. If thihs were a release like FarCry - which had much lower levels of advertising (AFAIR)- then it would be a fair comparison with other new games that have come out before without this protection...

The question remains the same for gamers. How much control are we willing to sacrifice for the sake of a healthy gaming market? Even console makers are forcing users to consider this with their handling of digital downloads.

I'm fine with any level they choose.... as long as they TELL US! That was the most annoying thing about this whole affair for me. Having steam and the securom protections together is a violation of the steam contract i enter into IMO. They need to have this stuff on the box and in the online information when you buy a game. Just foisting it on consumers and hoping they don't notice (Sony rootkit style) isn't going to cut it.

They want to treat me like a child or a pirate? Then i'll eventually act like one or both.... whining and pirating...

Great analysis btw

This was done with Half-Life 2 to great effect when it was released years ago. I don't remember getting a stable cracked version of the game for a wee bit there. It was wholly possible after a while but required just about as much hoop jumping as getting a cracked Starforce game to work. Of course I simply broke down eventually and bought the Valve super-pack or whatever it was that got me the entire Valve back catalog along with HL2 and other little goodies.

I believe it's safe to say that nearly everyone with a PC that can run modern games has an internet connection. Perhaps the ISP is different in that some have Cable, DSL and others have Dial Up or perhaps even bidirectional satellite or DVB or even cellular but even the most computer user-inefficient person (a nice way of saying it) has at least something like AOL or other dial up. Those that don't probably aren't playing games on the PC to be honest. At least PC games that would require some sort of internet registration or continuous access for the likes of Steam. In fact let me quote the actual statistic.

US broadband penetration grew to 83.43% among active Internet users in July 2007. Narrowband users connecting at 56Kbps or less now make up 16.57% of active Internet users, down 0.2 percentage points from 16.77% in June 2007 (see Figure 2).

As of Q1 2007 52.72% of US households had a broadband connection.
Source: http://www.websiteoptimization.com/b...

What does this mean? It means that about 63.19% (1) of the US population has a internet connection of some sort. I don't know if bidirectional satellite or Digital Visual Broadcasting or cellular connections are actually included in the total internet user base or if they are part of the broadband percentage. Hard figures are 194.6 million people in the US have an internet connection. This is based off the estimated 308 million population total of the 2010 census. (Source) Of those how many actually buy video games and would be hindered by the need of an internet connection? Every year the broadband user base increases by 0.8% on average per month according to the websiteoptimization.com site. Even DSL is able to reach residents in typically farmland and ranchland areas now. AT&T specifically offers DSL service to such locations here in Texas.

Another article claims that 28% of internet users are online gamers and these aren't even the hardcore gamers. In the article it just says these are the ones that play games such as strategy, arcade, cards, puzzle games etc. on things like Yahoo Games. Now according to this article it states that 34% of US consumers play online video games. This includes everything online including gamers like us with FPS, RPG, MMO etc. At least that's what the statistic eludes to.

In conclusion all these numbers don't really support or deny support for some kind of online copy protection system like Steam or whatever. However it does show that a majority (63%) of the US population has an internet connection and that 52% of the US population has broadband. Of these I am going to estimate that less than 25% of all internet users play games online that are of the nature that GWJ members play. Which is a generous estimation of 49 million serious online gamers. So this is the market in which these copy protections need to worry about. Obviously people still use Steam so it's not hindering the market that much. As more people get broadband then this becomes even less of an issue. The argument that one should be able to play a game offline if they want is a valid one however it is quickly becoming mute as the population of the US and the world increasingly becomes connected as a standard.

Cheers.

(1) My arrival at 63.19%. 308million (total estimated pop of US in 2010) x .5272 (total broadband users)=162,377,600.
162,377,600/.8343 (percentage of internet users that are broadband)= 194,627,352
194,627,352 is the total internet users in the US. Of those 32,639,006 are dial-up users.
194,627,352/308million = 63.19%

P.S. I do too much damn research for my replies sometimes. *whew*

Newsflash. DRM works. It keeps honest people - the ones who actually make a big difference in sales for a blockbuster title - honest. I rarely hear people screaming at the top of their lungs about the horrible unfairness of having extremely hard copy protection on most console games, and yet DRM on PC games is always seen as some kind of pariah. I would suggest with no evidence whatsoever that as a PERCENTAGE of sales, the number of people hit by DRM problems in the last week is far less than the percentage of 360 owners with bricked systems.

Feel free to flame me on this one, but games are not songs. I don't need to play my game in my car, in my friends car, or at a party friday night in the backyard. I need to play it on my gaming PC, and if I'm lucky, maybe on my laptop. Sure, when stuff doesn't work, it sucks, but EVERY PC game launches with stuff that keeps some small subset of players from playing the game. Would I be grumpy if mine was a machine not working? Sure. Do I get grumpy when I have a windows XP problem, or when I have to call India to reactivate when I change my motherboard? Sure. Does this keep a substantial number of people from freely copying Windows? You bet. Before activations for things on Steam, or for Windows, I knew LOADS of people, otherwise straight up small businessmen and the like, who casually pirated games ALL THE TIME. Now it's just too much hassle.

No one complains about the console DRM because the system was designed for it and more importantly it works (360 xbla failures not withstanding). When you buy a console you are guaranteed that everything else while with a PC it's all up in the air.

I wish the publishers had published some starforce removal patches for Silent Storm, Silent Storm Sentinels, Sacred Underworld, Star Rangers 1+2 DVD and Chaos League Sudden Strike. I have these import versions, but have been hesitant to reinstall any of them after having to reimage my pc (due to a totally unrelated reasons.)

Heh.. anyone remember long time ago I posted about looking at a company that had a copy protection where the .exe was downloaded during activation.

Isn't Bioshock following in Halflife 2's footsteps. I thought Halflife 2 was the first retail game you could grab at brick-n-mortar that required online activation to enable it. I guess the difference is Bioshock is 100% singleplayer, while HL2 offered both that and multi.

Before activations for things on Steam, or for Windows, I knew LOADS of people, otherwise straight up small businessmen and the like, who casually pirated games ALL THE TIME. Now it's just too much hassle.

This is the core of the problem and why Publishers had to start getting serious about protecting PC games.. EVERYONE I knew pirated PC games.. because it was so easy to do so.. these are people with millions of dollars who could easily afford to buy any number of games.. now that its become somewhat of a hassle none of them pirate anymore.. they either became 360 gamers.. or use Steam.. or simply just buy the game at Target or something.

The biggest issue still with PC gaming.. isnt Piracy.. or DRM.. its PC's themselves.. the high cost of Videocards.. then difficulty anymore of justifying that cost vs simply getting a 360. (To us a high end PC looks far better than a 360.. but to most its about the same.. or good enough) the constant fiddling with drivers.. settings.. to get a game working at >30fps.. its simply becoming to much of a hassle for most working gamers to deal with.. most just want to plop down.. game for 2 hours and then do whatever else they need to do.

Games for Windows was supposed to address many of the above issues.. so far its failed miserably.

I'd only want to make two points here...

1. For retail games (as opposed to download) the DRM in the console is primarily implemented in the console hardware and like everything else in the console world is completely standard and more importantly completely transparent.

As with most things on the PC, copy protection has to be implemented in software, and that software has to run against a myriad of unknown hardware configurations and therefore the chances that it works completely transparently for all users is fairly small.

I don't have anything against DRM or copy protection per se. What I personally can't abide is anything that keeps me from playing the game for more than 10 minutes after I take it out of the box. Lots of things keep me from playing PC games, but the main one is that the probability that any given game is going to take longer than 10 minutes between out of box and playing the game is too high.

2. Yes, there are a lot of bricked xboxen. But, Microsoft is trading bricked xboxen for new xboxen that work for no cost. There is no such recourse when you buy BIOSHOCK and it doesn't run on your machine for whatever reason.

If the pragmatic reality of the world is that PC games will not get published unless there are fairly onerous online activation requirements, then so be it. It just doesn't seem to me to be anything to celebrate. I'm not going to stand on some high horse of principle and declare that I refuse to be treated like a crmininal for paying my dollars at Best Buy for a copy of the game. I think people know what they are getting into these days. I will say that I'm just too old and too tired to deal wtih the hassle.

Here's hoping my Xbox doesn't brick before I finish the game.

It wasn't clear in the article, but do you have to be online to play the game, or just install it? I travel a lot and not being able to play in the plane / hotel / airport would be a deal breaker.

Second, as we saw recently, activation servers sometimes crash. What then? Nobody gets to play? And what if they pull an EA and stop supporting the game when a new one comes out? Will they remove the copy protection or just let it die?

rabbit wrote:

Before activations for things on Steam, or for Windows, I knew LOADS of people, otherwise straight up small businessmen and the like, who casually pirated games ALL THE TIME. Now it's just too much hassle.

This is unfortunately only applicable to novices and people who just try to *copy* a DVD to another etc. Normal copy protection has worked against these people for a long time. I still know lots of people who pirate games on PC. I even know of someone (through an acquaintance) that has a WoW server up.

Also, with regards to the 360 i only know a few people who have the console but none of them have many legitimate games - maybe one or two - because they can get pirated games for a fiver.....

So in my experience i know more people who pirate console games (PS2 and dreamcast included) than people who pirated PC games....

DRM doesn't work against pirates - as people always say - it never will. In fact since DVD's console piracy has sky-rocketed.

[edit] re-phrased first line.

[edit2]
@kleinetako

It wasn't clear in the article, but do you have to be online to play the game, or just install it?

Just to install it. It's not a big issue if you're not running any registry scanning software and you're buying the retail version.

Second, as we saw recently, activation servers sometimes crash. What then? Nobody gets to play? And what if they pull an EA and stop supporting the game when a new one comes out? Will they remove the copy protection or just let it die?

Difficult one to assess really. If the activation servers go down then they should be able to reboot them pretty quickly - as long as it was from overload and not code breaking. Companies say (eg. Valve for steam and 2K for Bioshock) that they would release patches to remove the authentication... though there have been few cases of this happening with big games (usually disc restriction removal) and no online authenticated games that i know of.... I don't know how that would work - especially in the case of Bioshock where it connects to the internet whileinstalling.

In principle, I have no problem with DRMs. But I do have two simple, yet deal breaking requirements from them.

1. They have no long lasting function on my computer above and beyond protecting the software they are charged with.
2. Interaction with them is one time only. Once the software is installed and authorized, I can pack my media away and never have to see it again.

I posted a rant about this in Parallax's thread A Sprited Debate About Game Piracy a while back. Instead of re-typing the whole thing out again, I'll be lazy and re-post it here:

Myself wrote:

Some of the following points have been brought up in this thread earlier, but for the life of me I cannot find them. Still, here is my $0.02 on the matter.

I have no sympathy for developers and publishers who claim that piracy is the main contributing factor to their declining sales of games. I believe it is a crock of sh*t to say that piracy is dragging down the PC industry. I do believe that piracy does impact sales, but not the extent that developers and publishers say. To believe that for every downloaded game is a lost sale is wrong and a belief that people hide behind to justify more stringent copy protection systems or to make the effect of piracy seem worse than it is. Somebody on the fourms here (I think it is Minase) has a quote from Warren Spector in his sig saying how Warren never minded piracy because chances are that person was never going to buy that game to begin with.

The PC video game industry is itself the main reason why sales are declining. In no other media form are products allowed to ship and be purchased as the state at which some PC titles are in. When I purchase a CD, DVD, book, or any consumer product I expect the damn thing to work. If it does not work, I should be able to return the item for a new one or a refund. When I purchase a PC game (and I am by no means painting with a broad strokes here and saying all of them are bad), it can be at times a roll of the dice to see if it works on my system. PC games have been shipped with crippling bugs, errors, and f*cking flat out missing content which people pay for. For the majority of other goods and services than can be purchased, this would be considered unacceptable. For the PC gaming industry, this is business as usual. I expect by no means to have every PC game run flawlessly on every computer upon launch, but when your game lacks god damn content (reaching back here, but the Star Trek:DS9 Dominion Wars game touted a new kind of Federation ship in the game that was finally patched in 6 months later), does not support one of the major video cards brands (Metal Gear Sold 2 for the PC did not support ATI cards at launch. I was floored when I read that on the box of the game), or is far, from being finished (see Vanguard, Vampire The Masquerade, or Battlefield 2), do not act surprised when the people you are selling this stuff to get jaded. Add in on top of all that that the many PC games are designed for high end hardware that only a small percent of the target demographic have in order to run well, then you further alienate more and more customers. I was myself strictly a PC gamer for a long time. I finally got fed up with when I kept spending $500 every year just to keep my computer at just below mid range and bought a 360.

Copy protection is a useless layer of DRM that hurts more than it helps. Every form of copy protection has been broken and cracked, even the infamous Starforce. If people want to pirate your games, they will. More developers are realizing this now, and while I think it would be hard to prove that removing copy protection will increase sales, it certainly will not hurt. I applaud the developer Relic for their smart, sensible approach to their bare bones (if any at all) copy protection policy. The original Dawn of War shipped with CureRom copy protection, as did the expansion Winter Assault. Well after Winter Assault was on the shelves, they patched out the CureRom copy protection, and dropped it all together (I think, I could be wrong and if I am someone please correct me) for the next expansion Dark Crusade. Company of Heroes also shipped with very lax copy protection as well. Even without copy protection, all these games sold well.

In the end, the PC industry has only itself to blame for the lack of sales. Piracy hurts yes, but not to the extent that the industry claims. Don't piss in my ear and tell me its raining by claiming you game did not sell well due to piracy when the damn thing probably shipped in a pre-beta state.

DRM = personal PC fingerprint on everything you surf, download, upload, buy, sell and run. A hardwired DRM would be unique to your CPU or Mainboard. It would be unable to be hidden and is not easily changeable like an IP or MAC. This DRM would be used to register you on everything you install. It would absolutely get rid of all sorts of piracy of software. It will also allow those with "the" tracking database access to track your every movement and action. It could also allow any software developer to simply discontinue support for a program only to those with a certain DRM range. If you do anything wrong at all it's possible for Microsoft, hypothetically, to discontinue Windows Genuine Advantage for your specific computer. Now all Microsoft software including your OS would stop working period. You would not even know until after it was already too late. And don't think about changing out that CPU for another because that Windows installation disc you have won't work for any other but the original CPU with it's DRM unless you contact Microsoft and free it back up again.

What are you willing to give up in support of DRMs for the PC? Because if the answer is not a whole lot, you might want to rethink your support. Before you say you don't or won't do anything to warrant investigation, suspicion or anything. Know that with DRM on your PC, if evasive enough, could tag any file on your computer. Any sharing of any file "could" be traced back to you "hypothetically" in a future Big Brother run society. Copy Protection law suits would be like paying parking tickets in the mail at that point.

DRMs have a long way to go and they certainly are no where near ready for active PC usage.

Duoae,

One of the issues with Piracy is that there's no NPD. I doubt that console piracy for the 360 is massive on a percentage basis. I know in Asia there are big problems, but the piracy issue is ALWAYS one of "would you make a sale to the person who pirated if they couldn't get it free," and I suspect the answer for much of this is "no."

You mean NPD as in the American tracking agency that releases numbers of sales etc?

The problem is that i don't think that PC piracy of games is any less than it is on consoles (with the exception of Blu-ray). In fact i would bet that the industry has gone completely the opposite way round since 486 vs NES generation:

OLD:

floppy drives - easy to copy, no protection AFAIK
Cartridges - very difficult to copy

Middle:

CD - both PC and PS1 - less difficult than cartridges but more difficult than floppies

NEW:

DVD - PC - Heavy, with multiple types of evolving DRM - more difficult to crack than consoles and getting more difficult as time goes by.
DVD - 360/PS2 - Easy to circumvent protection - cheap and quick - cannot be detected if done properly.
Blu-ray - virtually no copying

Really, maybe i'm a bit confused but your two posts seem to be opposites of opinion...

:\

[edit] Typos... shouldn't have gone swimming at lunch...

I think it's the opposite with PC and 360. PC/PS2/Wii/GCube/Xbox can be done by a trained chimp.

rabbit wrote:

Would I be grumpy if mine was a machine not working? Sure. Do I get grumpy when I have a windows XP problem, or when I have to call India to reactivate when I change my motherboard? Sure. Does this keep a substantial number of people from freely copying Windows? Absolutely not.

Fixed. I do in-home computer support for a living and I see pirated copies of Windows everywhere. No one cares that they can't use Windows Update or that they get an error on bootup telling them they aren't genuine. They just ignore it and move on. I'm now seeing pirated copies of Windows Vista that use a crack that resets the 30-day trial clock. I ask people why they are willing to work with that inconvenience and they say "Because it's free this way." Anyone who doesn't want to pay for something can find a way to avoid doing so within a few minutes.

I've made a lot of anti-DRM arguments in the last week and I won't bother starting another one because everyone knows what I think. I will also say that a lot of people (including Gameguru who despite my arguing with him a lot, definitely knows a lot about things like this) make a number of valid points and that my vision is not perfect. That being said, Warren Spector's quote that Shawn referenced is 100% true. Anyone who is determined to pirate a product is a customer the software publisher will never have. Anyone who can't yet pirate BioShock (and I've heard there are cracks available that do work but I haven't verified this) will never buy the game and will either wait until they can pirate it or just won't play it. That sucks and those people should be culled from the gene pool but that's the way it is and publishers have to learn that's just a cost of doing business. How much future business has this SecuROM nonsense cost 2K? I know in my case (and many on their forums) that I will never buy another 2K published PC product if it uses this activation scheme because they've proven they can't manage it properly. Windows is different because most users have to use it and even then it's still widely pirated.

My point all along is that I just can't wrap my head around the idea that implementing a system that causes inconvenience for your paying customers is worth doing when it will not suddenly guarantee you the sales of those who would otherwise steal your product. It just seems backwards to me. Anyway, that's all I have to say on it.

Yeah. While it may be trivially easy to download and burn a disk image of a 360 game, modding the actual console to run the pirated game is a bit more daunting to most people. And, as the Halo 3 beta bans proved, it's not foolproof.

For the majority of PC games, it's still much easier to pirate.

I say good on 2k at this point. Piracy (back in the day.) was about 2 things, money and convenience. I was always a hardcore gamer but without having disposable income most games were beyond my price range. There were always certain titles I would purchase because of my endearing support of the developer, but for the most part if it was available online easily it was saving money. Now if the copy protection is good enough that the game is inconvenient to get online (or impossible) PC gamers in that mindset will have no choice but to purchase the game. There is definitely occasions where convenient piracy means a sale lost.

I think it's a safe bet to say Splinter cell: Chaos Theory was able to sell more copies even with Star Force enabled on it than they would have otherwise.

Just had to add something here.

the sheer furor coming from the "blackbeards" all over the games forum should give the person/s responsible for these security measures a huge slap on the back.

they are simply screaming about "my human rights" or "securom will start WW3",ask them why they think like that and they are frothing at the mouth like a chimp with an itchy...rear.

all this article is missing is the facts about how easy the removal of the offending security is after finishing with the game.
but the screaming "yo ho ho" bandits dont like hearing that,sort of destroys thier only reasons for screaming about "human rights" to say if a game etc should have security measures.

so in briefs....
Bravo to this site for not following the sensationalist ploy of other sites to simply grab traffic by instigating furor for furor`s sake.

so in briefs....

I prefer boxer briefs myself.

Sorry couldn't resist.

I agree with most of what has been said. As long as the copy protection is simple enough I don't have to jump through a billion hoops, and doesn't screw with my system, than I have no problem with a company trying to protect their IP.

Bravo to this site for not following the sensationalist ploy of other sites to simply grab traffic by instigating furor for furor`s sake.

That's not how we roll...

Although the Vanguard review still brings a smile to my face :p

Stylez wrote:

Now if the copy protection is good enough that the game is inconvenient to get online (or impossible) PC gamers in that mindset will have no choice but to purchase the game.

Or they just won't buy it. Most hardcore pirates do not pirate just out of convenience, they pirate because they don't like spending money (plus there's the real nutbars who believe all software should be free no matter what.) People of this mindset (which is most pirates that I've seen going as far back as BBS days) will just not buy the game out of spite if there is no way to pirate it. Or they'll wait until a way is found. I don't think 2K is getting any more sales from this group of people. The same way that anyone who wants to rent the game (which doesn't give any additional income to 2K either) instead of buying it will do so but we don't see 2K outlawing rentals of BioShock (at least not yet.) Pushing more and more invasive technologies on those who already gave you their money will not magically extract it from those who never intended to spend it.

if this gets me banned of well... Bioshock is not uncrackable. I have been watching it with interest online as i ponder to purchase or not. When i heard you can only install twice i almost started up the torrents for it so i can play it once and then delete it.. but i will wait for it and grab it out of the cheapo bin when i get around to it. Buying time i guess is a good shot but you have to remember that bad press also will turn people away from purchasing the game, like myself. I played the demo then when i was musing about buying it i read about the "rootkit" that it installed, even the demo did this.. so i quickly ran around my computer and low and behold i do have a few files that are undeletable in the normal way.. this angered me so i refuse to purchase it full price because of that. If they want to do some sort of draconian copy protection then they should make it so i can remove the damn thing once i am done!

[Mod edit] We don't post cracks on this website! Saying there is a crack is enough, posting it to prove a point is, as you note, just flying in the face of the rules to what? Impress us?[/edit]

This crack brought to you by the Chaos Crew

Regards,
Grim. lead Chaos

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